When I lived in Chicago, and attended Moody Bible Institute, I had a decision to make: what church do I attend? With professors asking and peers inquiring, I wanted to be able to say that I went to a really solid church with great Biblical foundations. My search led me to attend a fantastic church called MIssio Dei; however, my decision was not based on the teachings of the pastor, quality of worship, or on the different stances the church took on certain theological topics. My decision was based on one reason: Missio Dei was the church that Jenna (my now wife) attended, so that was the church I attended. We have a lot of decisions to make in life, and sometimes we make decisions with the right reasons, motives, and foundations. Other times, our decisions are founded on the wrong rationale and intentions.
The biggest decision we can make in life is whether or not we trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and I believe the foundation of that decision is critical. When making that decision, is it based on pure truth of the Gospel: that we are sinners needing to be saved, Jesus was sacrificed on our behalf to save us, He defeated death, and trusting in that gives us a relationship with God. Or, is that decision made with an improper foundation? Maybe it was made because of your parents - they always went to church, always brought you to church, so your faith just came about because your parents faith. One of the more dangerous foundations, in my opinion, is when that decision is made from emotion. Perhaps at a camp, and everyone surrounding you is emotional, you get emotional, and you make a hasty decision based on the emotional environment. Is your faith emotion or is it really Jesus?
Christianity at it’s core is a relationship: between God and you. What does a good, loving relationship look like? Ephesians 4:2-3 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Considering others higher than yourself, acting out of gentleness and peace, and showing love towards one another is a solid foundation to a great relationship. “Make every effort” is an important phrase too, showing us that whether with family, friends, or God - any loving relationship takes work!
I love Hume Lake and Forest Home Bible camps. Whenever we take our students, we are engaged with incredible programs that ultimately share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our students. When the Gospel is presented, that is followed by an invitation to trust in Him as their Savior. And there are radical, life-changing decisions that are made by hundreds of students - either to trust in Jesus for the first time or rededicate their lives to Him. I believe many of these decisions are made on the foundation of the Gospel, but I also think sometimes these decisions are made out of emotion in the moment. If those decisions happen out of emotional environment, it won’t last. We’ll get back from camp, get into the normal routine, whether its a two weeks or two months later, that decision is almost bound to wear off. Conversely, if those decisions are founded in the the truth of the Gospel, those commitments are life changers that re-direct your eternity.
God cannot be an experience or a hasty decision because of an emotional environment. Romans 12:1 tells us that our true and proper worship towards God is to be a “living sacrifice.” So how do we know the decision we have made in trusting Jesus is really founded in the Gospel or out of emotion? Ask yourself the question: am I a living sacrifice to God? Is your life reflective of one where your filter for everything you do is WWJD? If you want long-lasting faith, the foundation needs to be on the truth of Jesus Christ. True faith is life change, and that is a gauge to recognize if your decision was real vs. emotional.